To wake early, be a werewolf.

I find it funny that werewolves in the movies always seem to be surprised by the full moon. They go about their lives as normal, and suddenly “Shit, full moon again?!” and they wake up naked in a field somewhere, covered in blood.

I don’t know about you, but if this happened to me once, I would completely restructure my life so that it wouldn’t happen again.

As you’ll see, thinking like a sensible lycanthrope is crucial if you want to wake up early. In fact, you can use this 3-step process to change any habit.

Step 1: Appeal to Logic

Know why you should wake early. Think deeply about why you want to wake up early. Try asking yourself “Why?” five times in a row.

  • Why do I want to wake up early? So I can get more work done.
  • Why do I feel I need to get more work done? Because I am always behind on my tasks.
  • etc…

It may turn out that waking up early is not the best way to accomplish what you’re really after. For example, maybe you need to cut some projects out, and reprioritize your time instead.

If you still want to wake up early, you need to be aware of how it will affect your life. Imagine, in detail, how waking up at 5am would affect every aspect of your life, including:

  • your relationships
  • your breakfast(s)
  • your weekly movie night
  • time with your family and friends.

Simulate everything. The point of these simulations is for you to go into this challenge with open eyes. As a final appeal to your logical mind, you can calculate how much more time you will have per week, per month, or per year.

Step 2: Appeal to Emotion

Increase your desire to wake early. You’ve thought about waking early, now we you need to feel what it would be like.

  • How would it feel to be working in the total peace of the early morning, while everyone else is still asleep?
  • How would it feel to finish your Most Important Tasks before 9am?
  • How would it feel to have every afternoon free to do with as you will, without guilt?

Aristotle said “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” Benjamin Franklin woke at 5am, and gave this habit great importance. The ancient greeks called this challenge “the heroic minute”. Remember this when trying to wake up early… you have the right to feel heroic when you succeed.

Step 3: Shape the Environment

Change your environment to make it easier to get up and stay up.

If you were a sensible werewolf, you’d know when the full moon was coming, and would prepare for it. You’d lock all doors, bar all windows. You’d pick up some nice grass fed tenderloin from the market, and lay that out (why not spoil yourself, even through your affliction?). Every time you’d know you were going to transform, you’d prepare your environment accordingly.

If you want to be a sensible early-riser, this is exactly the kind of thing you need to do every night before going to bed. Not the raw meat and locking the doors, but preparing your environment for the groggy non-human that you are when you first wake up. Every morning, you will transform into something else. Something whose only goal is to go back to sleep.

You need to change the environment to prevent “it” from doing so. Set traps for “it”, such as another alarm in another room. Or piles of junk on the couch so he doesn’t go there to sleep instead. Set rewards for “it”, such as a prepared breakfast table, and any comforts you might think would help it stay awake (warm clothes in the winter, a cup of coffee in the machine, etc).

Finally, try to fast 12-16 hours before you want to wake up, and then eat immediately on waking. Also, make sure you have bright lights where you will be. Both of these send signals to the brain that it is time to be awake and alert

Change when change is hard

This 3-part approach is based on the “Rider, Elephant, and Path” analogy from “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”. It’s very entertaining guide to changing yourself or others, and has a great deal of well-researched information on the subject.

If you have any interest in changing habits or behaviors (yours, or other people’s), you’ll like this book.

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